Rumors about coronavirus are flying and the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health is urging Iowans to get the facts before posting anything on social media so they don’t spread disinformation.
Doctor Caitlin Pedati says it’s understandable that people are concerned but they also need to use their heads before contributing to the panic. “Sometimes it can be hard to know where to find reliable information,” Pedati says. “I think the biggest thing we’d like to emphasize is that Iowans can use our Facebook page, our social media, and our webpage to get accurate and up-to-date information about this virus and a variety of public health issues.”
In recent weeks, two Iowans were put under watch for possible exposure to the deadly virus and both ended up being fine. Now, Pedati confirms, seven more Iowans are under watch by the state health department. All of them are in self-quarantine, meaning, they’re staying in their own homes.
“We’re providing monitoring for people who don’t have symptoms but who had a travel risk,” Pedati says. “We check in on them twice a day to see how they’re doing and the idea is to support them if they were to need care and also to limit the spread of any potential illnesses.”
Federal health officials are warning Americans to prepare for the possibility of an aggressive outbreak. Pedati says Iowa families need to prep for this as they would any other emergency, like severe weather. “If we were to see it spread in the United States, which we have not yet, but if we were, we want to make sure people understand the kinds of things you would do to help protect yourself,” Pedati says. “It sounds simple, but those are really important things like covering your cough, washing your hands and truly, staying home from work and school when you’re sick.”
Coronavirus is confirmed in more than 30 countries, but federal health officials are not calling it a pandemic. Radio Iowa asked Pedati why: “This is indeed a new virus, it can spread from person to person, and it does seem to be spreading in some other countries but we’ve not yet seen widespread activity across the globe,” Pedati says. “That’s what people are thinking about when we think about the criteria for an illness that we see around the world.”
In China, more than 2,700 deaths are attributed to coronavirus, with 78,000 confirmed cases. Hundreds of cases are confirmed elsewhere around the globe.